Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas —
More than 40 years after it was established at then Randolph Air Force Base, the Community College of the Air Force remains a unique entity in the armed services - a degree-granting institution that provides great value to enlisted members at installations worldwide.
It continues to meet its original intent of gaining accreditation and recognition for Air Force training.
"We are the only service that offers a program like this," Gay Close, 802nd Force Support Squadron education services specialist, said. "It takes enlisted members' military training and converts it to regionally accredited college credits. They're able to get college credit for learning their jobs."
The CCAF is a key component of professional development and is also directly associated with personal readiness and the mission, Master Sgt. Amy Kanawi, 340th Flying Training Group first sergeant, said.
"Obtaining a CCAF degree is strongly advised and is considered a responsibility among all ranks," she said. "All Airmen should strive to complete the CCAF; the program enhances Airman and mission readiness, enabling greater future successes."
New Airmen hear about the CCAF during basic training, but it receives more emphasis at their first duty station as part of First Term Airman Center briefings, Close said.
In addition, base education centers are ready to help Airmen start the process to obtain a CCAF degree.
"For new Airmen, what I stress at FTAC is that, when they're ready to go, they should see a counselor one-on-one," Close said. "We'll go over their CCAF degree in detail and walk them through the entire process."
A CCAF degree - an associate of applied science degree that relates to a member's Air Force Specialty Code - requires 64 semester hours, but Airmen satisfy many of those hours by attending to their daily duties, she said.
"A lot of people I talk to don't realize how much credit they get through the military," Close said.
Completing basic training satisfies the physical education requirement of the degree, which is four semester hours, and the work they perform in their AFSC typically addresses the technical education requirement of 24 semester hours.
Some AFSCs surpass the 24-semester-hour requirement, in which case the surplus hours can be applied to electives, Close said.
Airmen may also satisfy the management requirement of six semester hours through Air Force programs such as Airman Leadership School, she said.
A CCAF degree also requires 15 semester hours of general education courses - oral communication, written communication, math, social science and humanities - which Airmen can satisfy by attending classes offered by colleges and universities at their installations and at local campuses, taking accredited online courses and successfully completing College Level Examination Program and Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support credit-by-exam tests.
Another requirement of a CCAF degree is completion of the five-skill level, Close said.
"For everybody, regardless of their AFSC, the five-level is worth eight semester hours," she said.
Obtaining a CCAF degree is not mandatory, Close said, but it offers Airmen more career advancement and promotion opportunities. When they separate from the service, they have a degree as well as job experience to help them find employment in the civilian workforce.
Another benefit is that, with tuition assistance, Airmen can significantly reduce the cost of their education, she said.
Kanawi said earning a CCAF degree can also serve as a springboard for continuing education and advancement.
"The CCAF provides additional educational and professional avenues for Airmen, either by continuing their education in a bachelor's or master's program, or applying for a special duty, broadening their skill sets for greater responsibilities," she said.
For more information, call the Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Education Center at 221-1294, the JBSA-Lackland Education Center at 671-2895 or the JBSA-Randolph Education Center at 652-5964, or visit http://www.au.af.mil/au/ccaf.